Fabulous news, Walking Dead fans. Thanks to the folks at Wunderkind and Thomas Dunne, I'm hosting a Walking Dead giveaway!
One lucky winner will get one copy of each of the new Walking Dead novels: The Rise of the Governor and The Road to Woodbury by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. Giveaway dets are at the bottom of this post.
These are the first two in a three book series. Here's more info from the publisher's page:
From the mind of Robert Kirkman, the legendary comic book auteur and creator of The Walking Dead, comes a new series of all-original novels steeped in the terrifying mythos of the Eisner Award winning comic. Co-written with bestselling novelist and Stoker Award finalist Jay Bonansinga, the books thrust readers right into the middle of the greatest zombie apocalypse epic ever told.
The first volume, THE WALKING DEAD: RISE OF THE GOVERNOR, explores the heart-wrenching and horrifying origin of the comic world’s most infamous villain: Philip Blake, AKA The Governor. Following Blake and his ragtag band of survivors as they carve out a terrifying path through infested subdivisions and rotting cities, RISE OF THE GOVERNOR is a fever dream of a road trip that explores the making of a super-villain, culminating in a mind-bending twist-ending.
The second volume in the series, THE WALKING DEAD: THE ROAD TO WOODBURY, (nearing completion at press time) delves even deeper into the dark heart of the Governor, taking readers through the fractured looking glass of a small town turned into a deadly dictatorship. As seen through the eyes of a troubled bystander, Lilly Caul, this rotting utopia crumbles under the weight of its own excesses and lurid pastimes...
And, to give you a little taste, I've got a bit of an excerpt here for you as well:
No one in the clearing hears the biters coming through the high trees.
The metallic ringing noises of tent stakes going into the cold, stubborn Georgia clay drown the distant footsteps— the intruders still a good five hundred yards off in the shadows of neighboring pines. No one hears the twigs snapping under the north wind, or the telltale guttural moaning noises, as faint as loons behind the treetops. No one detects the trace odors of putrid meat and black mold marinating in feces. The tang of autumn wood smoke and rotting fruit on the midafternoon breeze masks the smell of the walking dead.
In fact, for quite a while, not a single one of the settlers in the burgeoning encampment registers any imminent danger whatsoever—most of the survivors now busily heaving up support beams hewn from found objects such as railroad ties, telephone poles, and rusty lengths of rebar.
“Pathetic . . . look at me,” the slender young woman in the ponytail comments with an exasperated groan, crouching awkwardly by a square of paint- spattered tent canvas folded on the ground over by the northwest corner of the lot. She shivers in her bulky Georgia Tech sweatshirt, antique jewelry, and ripped jeans. Ruddy and freckled, with long, deep-brown hair that dangles in tendrils wound with delicate little feathers, Lilly Caul is a bundle of nervous tics, from the constant yanking of stray wisps of hair back behind her ears to the compulsive gnawing of fingernails. Now, with her small hand she clutches the hammer tighter and repeatedly whacks at the metal stake, grazing the head as if the thing is greased.
“It’s okay, Lilly, just relax,” the big man says, looking on from behind her.
“A two- year- old could do this.”
“Stop beating yourself up.”
“It’s not me I want to beat up.” She pounds some more, twohanding the hammer. The stake goes nowhere. “It’s this stupid stake.”
“You’re choked up too high on the hammer.”
“Move your hand more toward the end of the handle, let the tool do the work.”
The stake jumps off hard ground, goes flying, and lands ten feet away.
“Damn it! Damn it!” Lilly hits the ground with the hammer, looks down and exhales.
“You’re doing fine, babygirl, lemme show you.”
The big man moves in next to her, kneels, and starts to gently take the hammer from her. Lilly recoils, refusing to hand over the implement. “Give me a second, okay? I can handle this, I can,” she insists, her narrow shoulders tensing under the sweatshirt.
She grabs another stake and starts again, tapping the metal crown tentatively. The ground resists, as tough as cement. It’s been a cold October so far, and the fallow fields south of Atlanta have hardened. Not that this is a bad thing. The tough clay is also porous and dry—for the moment at least—hence the decision to pitch camp here. Winter’s coming, and this contingent has been regrouping here for over a week, settling in, recharging, rethinking their futures—if indeed they have any futures.
“You kinda just let the head fall on it,” the burly African-American demonstrates next to her, making swinging motions with his enormous arm. His huge hands look as though they could cover her entire head. “Use gravity and the weight of the hammer.”
It takes a great deal of conscious effort for Lilly not to stare at the black man’s arm as it pistons up and down. Even crouching in his sleeveless denim shirt and ratty down vest, Josh Lee Hamilton cuts an imposing figure. Built like an NFL tackle, with monolithic shoulders, enormous tree-trunk thighs, and thick neck, he still manages to carry himself quite gently. His sad, long-lashed eyes and his deferential brow, which perpetually creases the front of his balding pate, give off an air of unexpected tenderness. “No big deal . . . see?” He shows her again and his tattooed bicep—as big as a pig’s belly—jumps as he wields the imaginary hammer. “See what I’m sayin’?”
Lilly discreetly looks away from Josh’s rippling arm. She feels a faint frisson of guilt every time she notices his muscles, his tapered back, his broad shoulders. Despite the amount of time they have been spending together in this hell- on- earth some Georgians are calling “the Turn,” Lilly has scrupulously avoided crossing any intimate boundaries with Josh. Best to keep it platonic, brother-and-sister, best buds, nothing more. Best to keep it strictly business . . . especially in the midst of this plague.
But that has not stopped Lilly from giving the big man coy little sidelong grins when he calls her “girlfriend” or “babydoll” . . . or making sure he gets a glimpse of the Chinese character tattooed above Lilly’s tailbone at night when she’s settling into her sleeping bag. Is she leading him on? Is she manipulating him for protection? The rhetorical questions remain unanswered.
For Lilly the embers of fear constantly smoldering in her gut have cauterized all ethical issues and nuances of social behavior. In fact, fear has dogged her off and on for most her life—she developed an ulcer in high school, and had to be on antianxiety meds during her aborted tenure at Georgia Tech—but now it simmers constantly inside her. The fear poisons her sleep, clouds her thoughts, presses in on her heart. The fear makes her do things.
She seizes the hammer so tightly now it makes the veins twitch in her wrist.
“It’s not rocket science ferchrissake!” she barks, and finally gets control of the hammer and drives a stake into the ground through sheer rage. She grabs another stake. She moves to the opposite corner of the canvas, and then wills the metal bit straight through the fabric and into the ground by pounding madly, wildly, missing as many blows as she connects. Sweat breaks out on her neck and brow. She pounds and pounds. She loses herself for a moment.
At last she pauses, exhausted, breathing hard, greasy with perspiration.
“Okay . . . that’s one way to do it,” Josh says softly, rising to his feet, a smirk on his chiseled brown face as he regards the half-dozen stakes pinning the canvas to the ground. Lilly says nothing.
The zombies, coming undetected through the trees to the north, are now less than five minutes away.